Innu el­der passes away at 103

Shimun Michel Sr. re­mem­bered for com­mit­ment to fam­ily, tra­di­tion and ac­tivism

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Saltwire Homes - BY EVAN CA­REEN

A man be­lieved to be the old­est liv­ing Innu passed away in She­shat­shiu on Oct. 30.

Shimun (Si­mon) Michel Sr., 103, was a well-re­spected el­der. She­shat­shiu Innu First Na­tion Chief Eu­gene Hart said his loss is sig­nif­i­cant to the Innu com­mu­ni­ties of Labrador.

Hart noted Michel was one of the re­main­ing tra­di­tional Innu drum­mers in the com­mu­nity. He was re­spected for his knowl­edge and preser­va­tion of Innu cul­ture.

“Shimun by his age was able to see a sig­nif­i­cant amount of change in the com­mu­nity as he was there when the com­mu­nity of She­shat­shiu was formed in the 1960s and resided here for most his life, rais­ing his chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great­grand­chil­dren here,” Hart said. “Our com­mu­nity feels this is a sig­nif­i­cant loss and we will re­mem­ber him as one of those who helped guide our com­mu­nity and helped pre­serve our his­tory from when we lived in Ni­tassi­nan to where our Shimun Michel Sr. was in­volved in Innu land and re­source is­sues for decades.

com­mu­ni­ties have de­vel­oped to­day. On be­half of Chief and Coun­cil and the en­tire com­mu­nity of She­shat­shiu we will miss Shimun.”

Michel was born in Ni­tassi­nan, (the in­te­rior of Labrador), on Dec. 24, 1914. He had over 170 di­rect de­scen­dants.

The Innu Na­tion re­leased a state­ment fol­low­ing Michel’s

pass­ing, echo­ing Hart’s com­ments about the changes he wit­nessed in his long life. Michel had been in­volved in Innu land and re­source is­sues since the emer­gence of the Innu Na­tion as a po­lit­i­cal move­ment in the mid-1970’s, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, in­clud­ing the cam­paign against low-level fly­ing and the devel­op­ments of

megapro­jects at Voisey’s Bay and Muskrat Falls.

“Shimun Michel was re­garded by all who knew him as a kind, deeply thought­ful and spir­i­tual man with a strong con­nec­tion to the land and an­i­mals,” the state­ment read. “He was guided by the spirit of the cari­bou, his abid­ing be­lief in Innu self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, and his re­solve to build a bet­ter fu­ture for all Innu.”

A fu­neral ser­vice was held for Michel Nov. 3 in She­shat­shiu. Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper spoke at the ser­vice, ex­press­ing sym­pa­thies and deep­est re­spect to the fam­ily and friends of Shimun Michel.

“His lead­er­ship has been a great part of our lives and as a leader of the Innu of Labrador,” Trimper said.

Trimper passed along com­ments from Premier Dwight Ball to those as­sem­bled. Ball said Michel was some­one who not only wit­nessed decades of Innu his­tory, but who also shaped it. His ac­tivism not only ben­e­fited his peo­ple, Ball noted, but also in­spired oth­ers to pur­sue Innu self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, and make a com­mit­ment to build a bet­ter fu­ture for all Innu.

“In or­der to know who we are, we need to have a strong sense of where we have been, and we need to know where we want to go,” Ball wrote. “That is why our el­ders are so im­por­tant, and why El­der Shimun (Si­mon) Michel Se­nior had such a tremen­dous im­pact on so many.”

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